How Thailand Tourism Surpassed Malaysia In ASEAN Countries 2024? – Travel And Tour World

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Thailand outpaces Indonesia and Malaysia in tourism growth, with 40M visitors in 2023 and 9.3M in Q1 2024, aided by strategic TAT initiatives and visa-free travel for 93 countries.

In 2023 and early 2024, Southeast Asia’s tourism industry has shown remarkable growth, with Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia experiencing significant increases in international visitors. Thailand led the way with over 40 million international travelers in 2023 and 9,300,000 in the first quarter of 2024, marking a 44 percent increase. Indonesia saw 11,680,000 international visitors arrivals in 2023, a 98 percent rise from 2022, and over 3 million in the first quarter of 2024. Malaysia welcomed 20,140,000 visitors in 2023 and 5,800,000 in the first quarter of 2024, representing a 32.5 percent increase. Also, Malaysia allowing visa-free travel to 134 countries and Indonesia to 169 countries, Thailand allowing visa free entry to just 93 countries still tops the list. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has implemented initiatives to attract visitors for long-haul stays, beach destinations, and Bangkok’s nightlife. This strategy combines adventure tourism, beach tourism, leisure tourism, business travel, and the meeting and event industry.

Despite impressive figures from Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand’s superior growth and recovery highlight its dominance in ASEAN tourism sector. Travel advisors, tour operators, Destination Management Companies (DMCs), event and meeting planners, and wedding destinations benefit from this growth, with thousands of restaurants serving international cuisine and a robust international digital campaign promoting Thailand as the world’s most tourist-friendly country. This multifaceted approach is how Thailand is beating Malaysia and Indonesia in the tourism sector.

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Thailand’s Tourism and Aviation Surge

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Top Tourist Origins
Tourist arrivals from China reached approximately 1,700,000 in 2024, a decrease from 3,500,000 in 2023. Malaysia sent around 1,570,000 visitors, down from 4.6 million. Russian tourist numbers were at 767,210, a decrease from 1,480,000. South Korea contributed 679,481 visitors, a reduction from 1.66 million, and India’s tourist count dropped to 643,587 from 1,620,000.

Tourism Performance of Thailand

In the first quarter of 2024, Thailand saw a significant increase in international tourism, welcoming 9,300,000 visitors, which marked a 44 percent rise from the previous year. Notably, over 1,700,000 of these visitors were from China, highlighting the country’s strong appeal to Chinese tourists. This surge reflects Thailand’s successful efforts in revitalizing its tourism sector and strengthening its position as a top destination in the global travel market.

Aviation Growth Post-Pandemic
Following the reopening of Thailand’s borders, the aviation sector has experienced a resurgence. Since 2021, the frequency of international flights to Thailand has surged. In 2023, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand’s primary gateway, saw over 40 million international travelers.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Overview
Suvarnabhumi Airport, located in Bangkok, stands as a major Southeast Asian international airport and a vital hub for the region. In 2023, it facilitated the travel of over 51,700,000 passengers, including 0.04 billion international travelers. Key airlines operating here include Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Thai VietJet Air, Thai AirAsia, and Thai AirAsia X, connecting Asia to other continents.

Prominent Hotels in Thailand
The landscape of hospitality in Thailand features landmarks like the Banyan Tree Bangkok, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, and Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok.

These developments highlight Thailand’s robust recovery in tourism and aviation, signaling a vibrant future for the industry.

Thailand Top Beaches

  1. Railay Beach, Krabi: Accessible only by boat, Railay Beach is a paradise of towering limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and soft white sand. It’s perfect for rock climbing, snorkeling, and relaxing.
  2. Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi: Famous from the movie “The Beach,” Maya Bay boasts stunning turquoise waters surrounded by high cliffs. Despite its popularity, it remains a must-visit for its natural beauty.
  3. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi: Known for its striking rock formations and caves, Phra Nang Beach offers breathtaking views and excellent opportunities for kayaking and exploring hidden lagoons.
  4. Patong Beach, Phuket: The most famous beach in Phuket, Patong Beach is vibrant with water sports, nightlife, and an array of restaurants and shops, making it a bustling hub for tourists.
  5. White Sand Beach, Koh Chang: True to its name, this beach offers long stretches of powdery white sand and clear waters. It’s ideal for those seeking a more relaxed and family-friendly environment.

Malaysia’s Thriving Tourism and Aviation Sectors

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Tourism Performance in 2023
Malaysia hosted a remarkable 20.14 million visitors throughout 2023. The top sources of visitors were Singapore with 8.308 million tourists, followed by Indonesia with 3.108 million, Thailand with 1.5513 million, China with 1.474 million, and Brunei with 811,833.

Growth in Early 2024
The first quarter of 2024 saw Malaysia continuing its upward trajectory in tourism, with an impressive count of 5.8 million international tourists. This figure marks a significant 32.5% increase compared to the same period the previous year.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Overview
Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the capital’s gateway, is not only the largest but also the busiest airport in Malaysia. In 2023, KLIA managed 49.22 million passengers, 980,040 tonnes of cargo, and 819,026 aircraft movements. Operated by Malaysia Airports (MAHB) Sepang Sdn Bhd, it serves as a crucial hub for Malaysia Airlines, MASkargo, Batik Air Malaysia, UPS Airlines, and World Cargo Airlines, and as a key base for AirAsia and AirAsia X.

Malaysia Airlines
In 2023, Malaysia Airlines successfully transported over 14.5 million passengers, reinforcing its role as a major player in the region’s aviation market.

Prominent Hotels in Malaysia
The hotel industry in Kuala Lumpur boasts prestigious establishments such as the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur, Mandarin Oriental, Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur managed by Banyan Tree, EQ Kuala Lumpur, and Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Kuala Lumpur.

This dynamic growth in both tourism and aviation underscores Malaysia’s appeal as a major travel destination and a central aviation hub in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia top beaches

  1. Langkawi Tanjung Rhu Beach: Tanjung Rhu is one of Langkawi’s most beautiful beaches, known for its serene atmosphere, clear waters, and limestone caves. It’s perfect for peaceful relaxation and nature exploration.
  2. Perhentian Islands Coral Bay: A diver’s paradise, Coral Bay offers vibrant marine life, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back vibe. It’s ideal for snorkeling and enjoying the underwater world.
  3. Tioman Island Juara Beach: Juara Beach is a tranquil escape with stunning coral reefs, lush jungles, and a peaceful environment. It’s perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
  4. Sipadan Island Beach: Renowned as one of the top diving destinations globally, Sipadan offers rich marine biodiversity and stunning underwater experiences, alongside its pristine beach.
  5. Redang Island Pasir Panjang: Pasir Panjang, also known as Long Beach, is famous for its white sandy shores and turquoise waters. It’s a great spot for snorkeling and enjoying the vibrant marine life.

Thailand tourist destinations:

  1. Bangkok: The bustling capital known for its vibrant street life, cultural landmarks, and bustling markets.
  2. Chiang Mai: A northern city famous for its historic temples, mountainous landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.
  3. Phuket: A popular island destination renowned for its stunning beaches, luxury resorts, and vibrant nightlife.
  4. Pattaya: A coastal city with lively beaches, entertainment venues, and water sports.
  5. Krabi: Known for its beautiful limestone cliffs, clear waters, and gateway to island hopping in the Andaman Sea.

Famous destination to visit in Indonesia

  1. Kuala Lumpur: The modern capital city, known for its iconic Petronas Twin Towers, diverse culture, and vibrant nightlife.
  2. George Town: Located in Penang, famous for its well-preserved colonial architecture, street art, and culinary delights.
  3. Johor Bahru: A rapidly growing city known for its proximity to Singapore, theme parks, and shopping outlets.
  4. Kota Kinabalu: The capital of Sabah, known for its waterfront, nearby islands, and gateway to Mount Kinabalu.
  5. Malacca: A historic city with a rich colonial past, famous for its cultural heritage, museums, and riverfront.

Indonesia’s Remarkable Tourism Growth and Aviation Milestones

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Tourism Boom in 2023
Indonesia witnessed a dramatic increase in foreign tourist arrivals, with figures reaching 11,680,000 in 2023, as reported by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). This represents a striking 98.3 percent increase compared to 2022, showcasing a robust recovery in the tourism sector.

Continued Growth in Early 2024
The trend continued into the first quarter of 2024, with over 3,000,000 foreign tourists visiting Indonesia. Notably, arrivals from Malaysia were the highest, though they decreased from 1,900,000 in 2023 to 704,183 in 2024. Other significant contributors included Australia, Singapore, China, and East Timor, although all showed a decrease in numbers compared to the previous year.

April 2024 Tourism Insights
April 2024 alone saw a 23.23 percent year-on-year increase in foreign tourist arrivals, totaling 1,070,000. A breakdown of these arrivals reveals significant contributions from Malaysia, China, India, Japan, the US, and Australia. By the end of April, total arrivals for the year had risen by 24.85 percent to 3,280,000. Optimistic projections suggest that numbers could reach between 9,500,000 to 14,300,000 by year-end, bolstered by enhancements in aviation infrastructure and expanded flight routes.

Soekarno–Hatta International Airport Overview
Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, also known as Jakarta Cengkareng Airport, is the main airport for the Jakarta area on Java Island. It is the busiest airport in Indonesia, with passenger numbers reaching over 50,960,000. Despite a slight dip in domestic flight departures in February 2024, the airport remains a critical hub for both domestic and international travel.

Garuda Indonesia Airline
Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier headquartered at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport, transported 8.291 million passengers in 2023, confirming its pivotal role in the country’s aviation sector.

Leading Hotels in Indonesia
Indonesia’s hospitality sector is adorned with premier resorts, particularly in Bali. Notable establishments include the Hilton Bali Resort, RIMBA by AYANA Bali, The Anvaya Beach Resort Bali, Mulia Resort – Nusa Dua, and Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

This robust performance in tourism and aviation underscores Indonesia’s rising prominence as a top destination for international travelers.

Top beaches in Indonesia

  1. Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida: Known for its distinctive T-Rex-shaped cliff, Kelingking Beach offers dramatic landscapes and pristine waters, accessible by a steep trek down the cliffside.
  2. Pink Beach, Komodo Island: One of the few pink sand beaches in the world, this beach is a marvel with its rosy shores and excellent snorkeling opportunities in vibrant coral reefs.
  3. Nusa Dua Beach, Bali: A luxurious beach destination, Nusa Dua features calm, shallow waters and pristine sands, perfect for families and those looking for a serene beach getaway.
  4. Gili Trawangan Beach, Gili Islands: Gili Trawangan is renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, making it a favorite for diving, snorkeling, and enjoying stunning sunsets.
  5. Jimbaran Beach, Bali: Famous for its seafood dining experiences right on the beach, Jimbaran offers golden sands, gentle waves, and some of the best sunset views in Bali.

Top Tourist Destinations in Indonesia:

  1. Jakarta: The sprawling capital city, a melting pot of cultures, with a dynamic economy and vibrant nightlife.
  2. Bali (Denpasar): A world-famous island known for its lush landscapes, stunning beaches, and vibrant arts scene.
  3. Surabaya: The second-largest city, an important industrial and commercial hub with rich colonial history.
  4. Bandung: Known as the “Paris of Java,” famous for its cool climate, fashion outlets, and tea plantations.
  5. Yogyakarta: A cultural heartland rich in Javanese arts, home to historic temples like Borobudur and Prambanan.

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